Teeth, Interrupted
November 15, 2011 10:53 PM   Subscribe

A child's skull in London's Hunterian Museum shows what your head is really up to when new teeth are coming in.
posted by hereticfig (86 comments total) 43 users marked this as a favorite

 
That is both perfectly understandable and sort of gross looking.
posted by tylerkaraszewski at 11:05 PM on November 15, 2011 [4 favorites]


My god. It's full of teeth.
posted by benzenedream at 11:07 PM on November 15, 2011 [22 favorites]


Insert joke about British teeth here.
posted by chavenet at 11:12 PM on November 15, 2011 [1 favorite]


The bottom incisors with the exposed roots kind of look like little baby legs sticking up.
posted by Burhanistan at 11:14 PM on November 15, 2011 [2 favorites]


I was not prepared at all for that.
posted by joelf at 11:23 PM on November 15, 2011 [6 favorites]


Oh dear. A "not suitable for trypophobics" warning might be a good idea.
posted by Zarkonnen at 11:29 PM on November 15, 2011 [5 favorites]


Now I know why I don't want kids. They'll eat you in your sleep.
posted by helmutdog at 11:30 PM on November 15, 2011 [4 favorites]


Now I know why I don't want kids cats. They'll eat you in your sleep.


Inevitable FTFY, I'll show myself out
posted by arcticseal at 11:34 PM on November 15, 2011


What the insectile fuck.
posted by hermitosis at 11:37 PM on November 15, 2011 [4 favorites]


Fucking Awesome!
posted by mannequito at 11:39 PM on November 15, 2011


I may be wrong, but haven't we (humans) seen this from simple x-rays? Is a skull on display to the public really all that mind opening, at this point?

Oh, look at that.

Is it any wonder children are so cranky and awkward? Their bodies are changing DRAMATICALLY on a daily basis. Literally every day is a new day, and they have to relearn themselves again. It's not until perhaps early 20s that our bodies start to calm down and we experience similar consecutive days, giving us time to observe what's happening around us and become a part of our society rather than struggling within ourselves.
posted by LoudMusic at 11:53 PM on November 15, 2011 [15 favorites]


When I saw this somewhere else, I read in the comments that this kid must have had some kind of (terribly painful) medical problem, because in a normal kid, the roots of the baby teeth dissolve and are absorbed by the time the adult teeth are this developed. I certainly don't remember my baby teeth having horrifying inch-long roots when they came out.

Anyone who knows more about teeth care to comment?
posted by cilantro at 11:55 PM on November 15, 2011 [1 favorite]


Cilantro, this looks to be a child of about 5 years old. When I was about 7 years old, I had all four of my baby canine teeth removed at once, due to tooth crowding. They all came out with roots almost as long as those shown here.
posted by illenion at 12:04 AM on November 16, 2011


This is why I don't go to London museums. I enjoy my quiet, tooth-free kips.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 12:05 AM on November 16, 2011 [3 favorites]


egads. I have extra teeth (supernumerary bicuspids, lower) and this is freakin' me out about what was going on in my jaw all at once!
posted by girlhacker at 12:07 AM on November 16, 2011


Yeah, illenion, when you're 5 your teeth won't have been ready to come out, so the roots won't have been reabsorbed (that sounds super creepy!) I'm talking about teeth that are ready to come out on their own - by that time, the roots should have dissolved, and it's a few more months before the adult teeth come in - and even when they do erupt, the adult teeth are still kind of nubby, and not fully-formed and HORRIFYING.
posted by cilantro at 12:13 AM on November 16, 2011


Oops, read your comment again, and saw that you were 7 when your teeth were removed. Sorry about that!
posted by cilantro at 12:14 AM on November 16, 2011


Looking at that makes my jaw feel weird. Has the skull been deliberately opened up? I wouldn't have expected to be able to see the teeth like that.
posted by lucidium at 12:34 AM on November 16, 2011


The goth/gothic tags on that Flickr page are a nice touch.
posted by univac at 12:38 AM on November 16, 2011


Gahh
posted by Pruitt-Igoe at 12:47 AM on November 16, 2011


Yes lucidium, parts of the skull have been cut away to expose the deciduous (baby) teeth. For reference, here's what an intact skull of a similarly-aged child looks like (the first model).
posted by illenion at 12:49 AM on November 16, 2011 [1 favorite]


I don't wanna be that guy and link to it, but anyone else see the shot in the same photostream of the sliced off face in a jar?
posted by mannequito at 1:03 AM on November 16, 2011


Okay, creepy.
posted by Xany at 1:03 AM on November 16, 2011


And see how those bottom central incisors have three bumps on them? That's because the teeth form in thirds and those pieces merge together pre-eruption. Eventually, assuming you have good occlusion, chewing wears down these "nubs" and gives you the flat incisal edge that you are accustomed to on adult teeth.

The first molars in both the maxillary and mandibular arches are usually the first permanent teeth to erupt, followed by the mandibular central incisors. Based on the appearance of the erupted mandibular central incisors, my guess is that this child is aged 6-7.
posted by readyfreddy at 1:09 AM on November 16, 2011 [9 favorites]


Looking at this I'm amazed that anybody ever ends up with naturally straight teeth.
posted by Defenestrator at 1:25 AM on November 16, 2011 [3 favorites]


I wondered if I should show my kids in case they would be scared. They loved it.
posted by milkwood at 1:27 AM on November 16, 2011


And see how those bottom central incisors have three bumps on them? That's because the teeth form in thirds and those pieces merge together pre-eruption. Eventually, assuming you have good occlusion, chewing wears down these "nubs" and gives you the flat incisal edge that you are accustomed to on adult teeth.

I still have my nubs at 26 because there's a slight vertical gap between my central incisors. Never thought about them before, but that's interesting to know. Are all teeth formed by fusing multiple pieces or is this just evolution's way of getting rid of unnecessary incisors the best way that it can?
posted by atrazine at 1:37 AM on November 16, 2011


I was just thinking about teeth earlier today. Teeth are so strange. I'm going to go and think about something else now.
posted by montaigneisright at 2:11 AM on November 16, 2011 [5 favorites]


oh my god there's two branching out of each nostril! oh god oh god make it stop!
posted by sexyrobot at 2:22 AM on November 16, 2011 [1 favorite]


The Huntarian collection is an excellent way to pass the time in London, and is just over the road from the John Soanes museum. Would highly recommend people visit to find the thing that squicks them out the most; for me, it was the section of a teenage girls facial tissue, that had been redyed using inks to approximate living tissue.
posted by The River Ivel at 3:37 AM on November 16, 2011 [3 favorites]


Why did I click? Ewewew!
posted by FunkyHelix at 3:46 AM on November 16, 2011


Thanks illenion. Though I was a little frightened at first when I misread your post as referring to those delicious baby teeth.
posted by lucidium at 3:49 AM on November 16, 2011 [4 favorites]


I remember going to that museum when I was about 16 on some kind of trip from chemistry class. I remember there being a while room devoted to teeth and such but most of it was preserved foetuses, conjoined twins and other abnormalities. Bizarre.
posted by loominpapa at 3:56 AM on November 16, 2011


I've actually heard that the buds of your adult teeth are present in your skull when you're a toddler. So that means in much younger kids' skulls, those adult teeth are already there. Waiting.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 4:08 AM on November 16, 2011 [14 favorites]


Around the age of 14 or 15 all four [not quite the molars but the ones before] emerged again so when I told my biology teacher about this - since we're only supposed to replace all these teeth *once* she told me I was a mutant.
posted by infini at 4:14 AM on November 16, 2011 [2 favorites]


Oh dear. A "not suitable for trypophobics" warning might be a good idea.

Images that come up from googling trypophobics are way more disturbing than the skull.
posted by jwhite1979 at 4:57 AM on November 16, 2011 [5 favorites]


Here's the Hunterian Museum's website, in case anyone was thinking it's some kind of Body World-esque freakshow-disguised-as-learning-opportunity. It's a 200+ year-old surgical and anatomical collection that's part of the governing body of UK professional surgery (i.e. the squick is a byproduct not a goal).
posted by cromagnon at 5:40 AM on November 16, 2011


atrazine: Are all teeth formed by fusing multiple pieces or is this just evolution's way of getting rid of unnecessary incisors the best way that it can?

I probably used the wrong terminology a bit. I think those aren't really three distinct "pieces", but three outgrowths form the same core, and they eventually merge. Tooth formation is terribly complicated. Here's a pic of how molars form:

http://hmg.oxfordjournals.org/content/12/suppl_1/R69/F1.large.jpg
posted by readyfreddy at 5:56 AM on November 16, 2011


I really want to show that to my first graders, but I think I might get some calls. The whole tooth thing is so strange, it's easily the weirdest thing about teaching little kids. They get so excited about losing teeth, but they're also freaked out by a piece of their body falling off.
posted by Huck500 at 6:15 AM on November 16, 2011


...And it's more horrible than you could possibly imagine. If I hadn't already abandoned all that rationalist/unified-subject/bounded-non-monstrous-subjects stuff, this would do it. Oh god, baby teeth are way more effective than Bakhtin.
posted by Frowner at 6:15 AM on November 16, 2011 [1 favorite]


I don't wanna be that guy and link to it, but anyone else see the shot in the same photostream of the sliced off face in a jar?

Freaky, gross things in jars is the Hunterian's bread and butter. I think my favorite part was the case of experiments, where they implanted human teeth into parts of chickens to see if they'd "take". Either that or the hall of fetuses.

Cool place.
posted by phunniemee at 6:17 AM on November 16, 2011 [1 favorite]


Remember, kids, drink all your milk or these things won't be able to grow properly inside your face.
posted by drdanger at 6:22 AM on November 16, 2011 [9 favorites]


Oh dear. A "not suitable for trypophobics" warning might be a good idea.
This. Shudders and tries to erase image from brain.
posted by Cocodrillo at 6:23 AM on November 16, 2011


As a mother, there's something inherently heartbreaking about those two little bottom teeth poking through.
posted by obeetaybee at 6:24 AM on November 16, 2011 [10 favorites]


There was a recent MeFi meetup at the Hunterian. It was equal parts awesome/gruesome.
posted by essexjan at 6:38 AM on November 16, 2011


At first I was thinking, hey might 8 year old daughter (whose 2 bottom adult front teeth are just coming out) might like to see this, but now I don't know. Might freak her out a bit...but I prob still will show her
posted by ShawnString at 6:50 AM on November 16, 2011


In hindsight, I should not have looked at this picture while eating my breakfast. With teeth.
posted by Leezie at 6:54 AM on November 16, 2011 [1 favorite]


AAH I CAN'T UNSEE IT
posted by castlebravo at 7:17 AM on November 16, 2011 [1 favorite]


It's teeth all the way down.
posted by backwords at 7:29 AM on November 16, 2011 [2 favorites]


There was a recent MeFi meetup at the Hunterian. It was equal parts awesome/gruesome.

And how was the museum?
posted by Floydd at 7:30 AM on November 16, 2011 [8 favorites]


I may be wrong, but haven't we (humans) seen this from simple x-rays? Is a skull on display to the public really all that mind opening, at this point?

I assume this skull predates the discovery of X-rays.

(Besides, X-ray pictures are extremely two-dimensional, since they compress a full 3D volume into a plane, compared to a photograph, which retains a feeling of depth. And I bet this is even more striking when seen in person.)
posted by ymgve at 7:32 AM on November 16, 2011 [1 favorite]


Perhaps the whole Tooth Fairy thing was a way of dealing with the horribleness of your body shedding parts. Sure, it's gross and disturbing, but hey, a nice fairy takes it away and leaves you some money! So you can forget that you are mutating.
posted by emjaybee at 7:36 AM on November 16, 2011


the roots of the baby teeth dissolve and are absorbed by the time the adult teeth are this developed.

I didn't learn this until my twenties. As a kid, I'd seen diagrams of teeth, always with their roots. And my mom had saved one of her baby teeth that must have been pulled, because it had a full root. So when my baby teeth started coming out, without roots, I silently panicked because I clearly had defective rootless teeth, and I assumed my adult teeth didn't have roots either and were in danger of falling out.
posted by Metroid Baby at 7:37 AM on November 16, 2011 [1 favorite]


Here's the Hunterian Museum's website, in case anyone was thinking it's some kind of Body World-esque freakshow-disguised-as-learning-opportunity. It's a 200+ year-old surgical and anatomical collection that's part of the governing body of UK professional surgery (i.e. the squick is a byproduct not a goal).

So it's the British counterpart to the Mutter Museum.
posted by TedW at 7:44 AM on November 16, 2011


sexyrobot: "oh my god there's two branching out of each nostril! oh god oh god make it stop!"

I know, I was all like "zomg teeth in the sinuses ew!" Probably not actually located in the sinuses but it sure makes it look like they are.
posted by IndigoRain at 8:01 AM on November 16, 2011


People who think that their kids will be frightened should realize that they probably see more horrible stuff than this on their friends' cell phones at lunchtime.
posted by winna at 8:17 AM on November 16, 2011 [1 favorite]


So when the tooth comes up out of the jaw and into your mouth, what fills the void left behind in the jaw? Does bone grow back in around the new root?
posted by Nelson at 8:21 AM on November 16, 2011


Does bone grow back in around the new root?

Nope, it just leaves little tooth holes (leaving the potential for INFINITE TEETH OMG). An adult's maxilla is really light. If you break it apart, you'll see that it's just full of air pockets. (And there's a sinus up in there, too, which is just a really big hole.) It's the least "bone"-looking bone in your body. The sphenoid's pretty weird, too.
posted by phunniemee at 8:27 AM on November 16, 2011 [3 favorites]


How anyone could look at that and think "intelligent design," I'll never know.

Evolution: Making shit up as it goes along for 4.5 billion years.
posted by BrashTech at 8:28 AM on November 16, 2011 [24 favorites]


So one of my baby teeth refused to fall out - the adult replacement eventually grew in above it. Finally, the summer before I got braces (so I must have been 12 or 13), the baby tooth finally came loose, and with orthodontics the adult tooth dropped into its place. IIRC, the baby tooth seemed "normal" - it didn't have a regular long root or anything.

So Mefi dentists: Did that one root not get absorbed until really late? Was that tooth just sitting there nearly rootless for 5 years between when I lost the rest of my teeth and when I finally lost the last one?
posted by muddgirl at 8:36 AM on November 16, 2011


It gets worse than that BrashTech… some teeth like canines have one root, but some teeth, like molars have a variable number of roots. At the extremes maybe 2-6? And of course, there's the whole wisdom teeth situation where a large number of people have bad wisdom teeth… or no wisdom teeth at all… or some in some places and not others… or wisdom teeth that are sideways. all sorts of irregularities. continuing, it has been postulated that human's mouths are growing smaller (and braces use increasing as a result). Not of these things are very good "proof" for ID. But they sure sound like expected events in evolution.
posted by readyfreddy at 8:36 AM on November 16, 2011


hard to say mudgirl without some radiographs.
posted by readyfreddy at 8:37 AM on November 16, 2011


I work at an after-school program for K-2 students. I recently had a child ask me why she saw her mother coming out of her room right before she found the money the Tooth Fairy had left. I explained that the Tooth Fairy is a very busy creature, so sometimes she has to do a mail-order business, with parents sending her the teeth and leaving her the money she sends them.

"So she uses the regular mail?" my student asked me.

"I think she sends things special delivery," I lied.
posted by nonasuch at 8:40 AM on November 16, 2011 [5 favorites]


hard to say mudgirl without some radiographs.

I wish I had my dental x-rays from when I was a kid. My teeth were horrendous. I want to post them to a website called "No Intelligence Would Design This!"
posted by muddgirl at 8:41 AM on November 16, 2011


Nightmare Fuel
posted by Slackermagee at 8:47 AM on November 16, 2011


What has been seen cannot be unseen...
posted by Splunge at 9:18 AM on November 16, 2011 [1 favorite]


Come on, this is fascinating. Don't freak out about. Embrace your inner unpredictable calcium factory.
posted by Burhanistan at 9:22 AM on November 16, 2011


My 11 year old just lost about 4 teeth in 3 weeks. I don't remember my older kids losing so many at that age so I did sme research and found a similar picture. We were all fasciniated and squicked out at the same time.

Also, I will be in London this spring for a few days and have bookmarked this lovely museum as an antidote to tea and crumpets.
posted by Biblio at 9:32 AM on November 16, 2011


Em brace
heh
posted by Namlit at 9:40 AM on November 16, 2011


it has been postulated that human's mouths are growing smaller (and braces use increasing as a result).

Oh my god, I got the nightmare worst case scenario end of this; I got one parent's teeth, but the other parent's jaw -- forget whether it's my mother or father who has the horse teeth -- and the dentist had to pull four of my teeth when I was about nine, perfectly healthy teeth mind you, simply because my jaw would not be able to fit everything. And then I had four years of braces on top of that.

And after all that my teeth are still kind of hella messed up, but that's because my orthodontist literally went crazy at some point and we gave up.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 9:56 AM on November 16, 2011 [1 favorite]


it has been postulated that human's mouths are growing smaller (and braces use increasing as a result)

Effect, meet cause.

People who naturally would have been sharkmouthed spinsters and bachelors now have, thanks to orthodontia, teeth that look better than naturally straight teeth, and offspring. The result is a human race with just completely fucking terrible teeth, which are then straightened, thus continuing the cycle.
posted by Sys Rq at 10:00 AM on November 16, 2011


People who naturally would have been sharkmouthed spinsters and bachelors now have, thanks to orthodontia, teeth that look better than naturally straight teeth, and offspring. The result is a human race with just completely fucking terrible teeth, which are then straightened, thus continuing the cycle.

Interesting that domestication would lead to dental crowding.
posted by psycho-alchemy at 10:08 AM on November 16, 2011 [1 favorite]


i screamed a wholly involuntary and distressingly shrill scream upon viewing that, oh my GOD.

what the fuck children, you monstrous little horrors, whose chest cavity did you erupt from?
posted by elizardbits at 10:20 AM on November 16, 2011 [4 favorites]


I can't link from here, but if you search for skulls for sale you will find a big company that sells animal ans human skulls and skull models. They recently had a skull like this for sale. I so wanted to get it, but it went for several thousand dollars.

I had to conform with high quality castings of some predator skulls.

My grandfather left me a human skull with a square hole cut out of the top. Me and my friends loved it growing up. I took it to show and tell a few times. You could look into the hole and see a fine imprint of the brain on the inside. Don't be afraid to show the image to kids, we loved this stuff.

Btw, most of the human skulls for sale are Chinese, non Chinese skulls sell for a lot more money. This is another product I'd rather buy local unless it is fair trade certified.
posted by Ayn Rand and God at 10:33 AM on November 16, 2011


Interesting that domestication would lead to dental crowding.

"It is critical that animals are not returned to the gene pool with treated, inherited orthodontic conditions that make their use as stud dogs more desirable." (PDF, warning: gross dog mouths)
posted by Sys Rq at 10:37 AM on November 16, 2011 [1 favorite]


A child's skull is inherently depressing, a child's skull showing all the slowly descending teeth the child never got to use because he or she never got to grow up is even more depressing.
posted by nanojath at 10:47 AM on November 16, 2011 [1 favorite]


I'll be in London next week and would love to go to the Hunterian, but alas, I think my husband could not handle the squick factor...
posted by Specklet at 12:52 PM on November 16, 2011


EmpressCallipygos: The same thing happened to me: 4 bicuspids pulled out, and 2? 3? years of braces, followed by a retainer. Also my front teeth are still out of alignment on the bottom row.

It wasn't a nightmare scenario for me, but I was never really afraid of dental work. If it happened now it would be annoying because of the inconvenience and the healing, but when I was 13 I didn't really care. The retainer was no fun, though.
posted by Pruitt-Igoe at 2:23 PM on November 16, 2011




And after all that my teeth are still kind of hella messed up, but that's because my orthodontist literally went crazy at some point and we gave up.


Did we have the same orthodontist, EmpressCallipygos? That same exact thing happened to me. Way too many teeth, lots of extractions, weird crazy orthodontist, and now all of my teeth are all messed up and will always be problematic. Is it worth the trade off for this gigantic over-sized cranium and brain? I don't know, evolution, I don't know.
posted by bleep at 2:58 PM on November 16, 2011


I also had my bicuspids pulled, plus 2 years of braces. I stopped wearing the retainer because I'm a bad person.

Every time I visit my current dentist, he laments that my orthodontist pulled my bicuspids rather than waiting to pull my wisdom teeth (or surgically extracting them). He has stated several times, "I bet you had beautiful bicuspids, while your wisdom teeth are so terrible." I've always wondered what ugly bicuspids look like.
posted by muddgirl at 2:59 PM on November 16, 2011


So, since sharks keep growing new teeth to replace the old ones, does that mean that baby sharks' bodies are full of teeth, all the way to the tail? Is that why they don't have bones, because they use up all their calcium for this?
posted by Joakim Ziegler at 4:08 PM on November 16, 2011 [1 favorite]


MetaFilter: fascinated and squicked out at the same time
posted by deborah at 4:33 PM on November 16, 2011


Macabre. Awe inspiring. Grotesque. Could give you nightmares, and yet you're floored by the wonder of it. You think nature can't drop your jaw anymore (so to speak) and then you see a miracle like this. It's humbling.

Thanks very much.
posted by Trochanter at 9:07 PM on November 16, 2011


Someone my dad went to high school with had three sets of teeth.
posted by dunkadunc at 2:31 AM on November 17, 2011


Arrrgggghhhh! Why can't I unsee that? Added patience when dealing with the young offspring from now on. That picture makes perfect sense, but freaks me right the hell out.
posted by Go Banana at 4:29 AM on November 17, 2011


I just want to add that everyone who I've interacted with today, I've had to picture their front teeth encased in their skull just below their nose. Thanks.
posted by bleep at 8:11 PM on November 17, 2011


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